Pat Miller: Will Write for Cookies PLUS GIVEAWAY

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

Reading today

PAT MILLER

I’m often going on and on about what an incredible community we have here. And for good reason! After all, we’ve got authors like Pat Miller, who give back so much in their presentations and critiques, who reach out with amazing programs and conferences like NF4NF, and who are ready, willing, and able mentors for all of us.

I was honored when Pat agreed to connect with us for this month’s Will Write for Cookies. Pat Miller is the author of Substitute Groundhog (a Junior Library Guild selection), Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution, and We’re Going on a Book Hunt. Her newest book is a nonfiction PB, The Hole Story of the Doughnut, (May 2016, HMH), also a Junior Library Guild selection. I featured it yesterday on my Perfect Picture Book Friday post. And guess what? If you leave a comment on that post or on this one, telling what nonfiction topic YOU”D like to see a picture book written about, you’ll be entered into the drawing to win a brand new copy of this awesome book!

Cover of Hole Story

 She and her husband live near Houston. Pat’s three children have given them six grandkids, ages 5 and under.

 As I mentioned earlier, Pat is the organizer of NF 4 NF, a writing conference for children’s nonfiction writers. The third annual conference will be September 22-25, 2016. She is a master gardener, enjoys traveling, and counts dark chocolate as a vegetable.

Hold on to your hats, dear readers, she’s going to take us on a rollicking ride!

Welcome, Pat! Thank you so much for joining us. I’m excited to get started.

 ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

 PAT:  We had few books in our house when I was young. My father was in the Air Force and we moved often, so my mother kept a trim household. Instead, Dad would stop by the library every week to bring home books.

 Cow book

I remember the first book he chose for me. It was The Cow Who Fell in the Canal by Phyllis Krasilovsky. Hendrika was a cow in Holland who was bored with farm life. She accidentally fell in a canal, but cleverly figured out how to climb aboard a handy raft and had quite the adventure floating the length of town.

 I was a school librarian when I unpacked the book fair and found a stack of my beloved Hendrikas! Yearling re-released the book in 1993 and I promptly bought one for each of my children. There she was, as cunning and sweet as I remembered her.

 My parents gave books for birthdays. One I loved was a picture book of Heidi. In one illustration, Grandfather had a little cabinet where he kept his two plates, two cups, and two bowls. I loved that cabinet and its snug inclusiveness. Today I have a similar cabinet in my kitchen, and I revel in that memory each time I put the plates away.

 disney

Two other gift books were a Disney Treasury of 21 stories and my first nonfiction book. It was filled with questions and answers. One of my favorites was “How many bubbles will a pound of soap make?” Answer: 25,500,000. I imagined how hard it must have been to count them all.

 Another beloved book was lost in a move. It was about Pandora and her tempting box. It had a thick front cover with a treasure box cut into it. You could lift the lid and a large, gross bug popped out on a tiny spring. I was as weak as Pandora about opening the box!

 ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?

PAT: It would have made my writing life less lonely if I had known about SCBWI. I began writing before there was social media and the Internet. None of my friends were writers. Now I may look like I’m alone in my office, but I’m surrounded by virtual colleagues and fellow writers—lots of company who commiserate, inspire, listen, and critique.

ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook? And when do you find time to write?

PAT: When our children moved out, I inherited one of the boys’ bedrooms for my office, complete with Chris’ model planes still hanging from the ceiling. We have since moved, and I have a wonderful room of my own with a bay window and French doors—so much light and a wonderful view of my gardens and the forested hill beyond.

 My desk

I have a laptop that I use on flights. Writing when you are suspended thousands of feet above the earth feels both daring and cozy. There’s the private view from my window seat, my airline hot chocolate snug in its tray table corral, and a snack bag of miniature cookies. It’s thrilling how my keyboard can take me far outside the plane without a parachute!

 ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?

PAT: I’m a morning person who likes to get up with the sun when the day itself is like a fresh new page. My brain is usually well-rested, my subconscious has done its work, and I’m filled with hope and possibility. I work until it’s time to head to the gym. I take classes in line dancing and water aerobics, which I LOVE!

 By afternoon, my writer’s brain is tired, so I try to get out—into the garden, into the community, or about my errands. My dog is great about taking me for daily walks.

 ME: Why do you write for children?

PAT: I started writing as a kid because I was so enchanted that ideas could be put between covers and would always be available.

 Reading to the kids

I loved being read to (still do). It was such a calm and cuddly time reading to my three kids. Storytime at school was as much my favorite as my students’. And now I get to read to six little grandkids. Books and reading are so important!

 I began writing for professional library magazines. An editor who’d read one of my articles asked if I could expand it into a book. I could and I did. In fact, my passion as a library teacher eventually filled more than 20 books.

 A kindergartner’s unlikely response to “What animal pops up on February 2?” inspired my first book, Substitute Groundhog. He had guessed an armadillo—sweet Texas boy that he was—and that’s exactly who pops up on Groundhog Day in this book. I wrote fun books about library procedures (We’re Going on a Book Hunt) and book care (Library Monkeys) because I needed them. Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution came about because there were no books about making a resolution—and my first grade teachers asked for one each year. I wrote two others, A Pet for Every Person and B-FARM: Exploring Animal Groups, because I needed books that included all the text features in one big book. Luckily, others needed these books as well!

 
th

 ME: Pat, do you have any other tips or thoughts you’d like to share with everyone?

PAT:

  1.  Read! Write! Repeat! Get a library card and wear it out. Befriend the librarian in the children’s section and strive to read every new book that appeals to you. Analyze how the ones you love are written, and imitate!
  2.  Store chocolate bribes in your desk drawer. I’m big on setting ridiculously small goals that I usually surpass. I use chocolate for motivation (writing two paragraphs is worth a mini-Dove bar).
  3. Carry a notebook with you so you always have paper. Cell phones have note features, but they also have a battery that dies on you at the worst times.

 wallet book

I carry one literally in my wallet—it’s as important as my credit card. It was here that I wrote the tour guide’s sentence that inspired my Hole Story of the Doughnut. Without it, I would have long forgotten those words.

4. Be aware that writers are expected to promote their work. I highly recommend Chris Syme’s blog and book SMART Social Media for Authors. It comes with incredibly helpful videos

5. Remember, being a writer is hard for EVERYONE! Persevere and create something so good you feel fizzy inside.

 WOW! Just so you all know, I’ve already signed up on Chris’ email subscriber list and immediately received a free tip sheet that I know will be uber helpful as I prepare for my debut picture book launch next spring. Pat…we are all wildly applauding and throwing confetti…thank you so very much!!!

If you’d like to connect with Pat or find out more about her books and conference:

 Website: Pat Miller Books

Blog: Pat Miller’s Write Mind

FB Author Page: Writing Nonfiction for Kids

NF 4 NF (Nonfiction for New Folks) Conference Page

NF 4 NF Facebook Group: Join the conversation

 And just when you thought this sweet goodness was over, Pat has a special treat recipe for all of us.

Ginger Snaps

Cookbook

(from a 1959 recipe submitted by M. Mills)

 12 Tbsp. shortening (Substitute 1 ½ stick butter)

1 c sugar

4 Tbsp. molasses

4 Tbsp. beaten egg

2 c sifted flour

2 tsp soda

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp ginger (I use freshly grated ginger)

 Cream shortening (butter) and sugar. Add molasses and egg. Beat well. Sift dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Roll into small balls. Dip into sugar. Place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake in moderate oven (375 degrees) for 15 minutes.

You know, gingersnaps are one of my favorite cookies. I can’t wait to try this recipe! Recently I’ve been adding lots of raw ginger to salads because I heard it is really good for you…I’m thrilled to find a sweet treat that uses it as well.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend – the air smells like spring…and my soul is smiling. My grandson and I planted a couple of seeds…and they are sprouting already. But I am waiting for Memorial Day to get my veggies in the ground. Are any of you putting in a kitchen garden this year?

Logo final BB2 1 inch 300dpi

 

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever Mom of 3, educator, author of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2018), picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, cooking, playing Monopoly with my 8-year old grandson and fly-fishing with my husband.

Posted on May 21, 2016, in Dessert recipes, Uncategorized, Will Write for Cookies - Author/Illustrator interviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 70 Comments.

  1. What an information-packed interview! Thanks for the background, advice, and recipe, Pat, and thanks for hosting, Vivian!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “I started writing as a kid because I was so enchanted that ideas could be put between covers and would always be available.” I love that! Wonderful, positive insight from Pat- and the ginger snaps with fresh ginger (and substituted butter) sound perfect! Thanks to you both!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So great to see Pat here today w/one of my other fav kid lit peeps, Vivian! Good interview and I jut received my social media tip sheet, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! So many good resources to follow up on. The generosity of the community never ceases to amaze. Wouldn’t it be fun to see more non-fiction books about quirky, odd people in our history who were unrecognized or even ridiculed until the times caught up with their brilliance?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amen, Sherry! You and I are on the same wavelength. I’ve already found my next quirky, unsung character, and she definitely deserves her place in history!

      Liked by 1 person

    • YUP! I LOVE finding those who were unrecognized…or unrecognized for a particular contribution…I feel the story will honor them. So glad you enjoyed the interview, Sherry…it is a fabulous community!!!

      Like

  5. melissa bulls

    I love reading about mistakes that became genius ideas such as post it notes. I’ve read their stories in adult literature but would love to see more in kidlit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The doughnut was not the most amazing thing that Hanson Gregory did, but has become the most memorable. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, you are exactly right, Melissa…I find it fascinating…like Silly Putty that was originally the cleaner for sooty walls…I actually plan to have a page on my blog about inventions like that…as soon as I get a spare minute…hahaha…and I’m retired…but I am more busy now than every before. 😉

      Like

  6. Great post and cookies too. Thanks! Off to bake cookies before I get back to writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. PS…think I’ll use the whole egg!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I will READ and WRITE for cookies…and for DONUTS! Thank You for a great blog post:>

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for an informative and mouthwatering blogpost. I really enjoy reading and writing about factual events. A nonfiction idea I would like to write about is the history and current practice of urban beekeeping.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ellen Leventhal

    Great post. I do feel like I’d like to delve into NF a bit,and since I live pretty close to Pat Miller, I am determined to meet her! (And munch on doughnuts together?).

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for sharing Vivian & Pat! Always enjoying learning about the lives of other authors. And thanks for the link to Syme’s blog Pat. After reading about Henrietta Lacks, I hope someone will write a children’s book about her immortal genes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. gayleckrause

    Thank you, Vivian and Pat. I’d love to win The Hole Story of the Donut. And I think a NF PB about two unlikely friends would be very interesting for kids. Both known in their own right, but a little known friendship between them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good idea, Gayle. I just checked one out of our library yesterday, and it is actually called TWO FRIENDS. It’s the story of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass by Dean Robbins. One of my favorites is WORST OF FRIENDS by Suzanne Jurmain about Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve got one about two friends that many people don’t know even knew each other…revising right now for three editors who are interested. Fingers crossed I can whip it into shape so at least one of them will grab it…if I have any luck, Gayle, I will be shouting from the rooftops. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Good post. Wow, what non fiction topic would I like to see a PB written about? Hmmm. Lots of things. Like her book about the doughnut (I wrote an article about it one time :o)), I like books written about lesser known, but interesting, people and things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s my favorite thing to do, Janet…find those hidden nuggets of gold and craft a story that will bring history alive for young listeners and readers. 😉 So glad you enjoyed the post!

      Like

  14. Okay, so come over to my FB page, mona pease, and grab yourself a gingersnap cookie!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Lori Mozdzierz

    I love that “fizzy feeling inside.”

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Very inspiring interview. Love the concept of your new book!

    Like

  17. Thanks for sharing! I love this: “Persevere and create something so good you feel fizzy inside.”

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Sandra Jenkins

    Thanks for your post. It helped me realize that chocolate is the answer. I’d like a NF PB about chocolate. I think I’ll start researching with taste testing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brilliant plan! Start with Melissa Stewart’s excellent book, NO MONKEYS, NO CHOCOLATE. Definitely needs to be read with chocolate. 🙂

      Like

    • Did someone say chocolate???? I definitely think there can be more than one book about chocolate, Sandra…you go, girl! And if you need help with the taste testing, I’m always happy to give a friend a hand. 😉

      Like

  19. My mother had that same cook book, Vivian, and I learned to make Ginger Snaps from this same recipe! Talk about a jolt from the past! 😉
    The picture of Pat Miller reading to the two children, and how happily fascinated they children are, is the best promotion for her writing talents!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Pat–Thanks so much for the glowing recommendation. I love it when authors are helped by reading my book or taking a class. Best of luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • What an honor to have you stop by, Chris! Yes, I’m thrilled that Pat mentioned your website…I’ve signed up to receive updates and info…and I know several other friends have also. I enjoyed the tip sheet…thank you so very much!

      Like

  21. Love the one-two punch of book review & author interview. I can’t fathom writing in the pre-Internet days (even though I remember them well). What would we do without our virtual community?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know, Pat…I think writing was a much lonlier profession than it is now. With the internet, we can interact, learn so much from each other…and most importantly, encourage and support each other. So glad you enjoyed the one-two punch!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Thank you, Vivian and Pat, for this outstanding blog post. I learned something from all of your responses, Pat. One of the first posts I read when I started writing was one you wrote for PiBoIdMo and I still remember it. You wrote about your inspiration for your doughnut story. Congratulations on its publication! I can’t wait to read THE HOLE STORY OF THE DOUGHNUT (and what a pitch perfect title)!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lori…that is so so so cool that you remember Pat’s PiBoIdMo post where she wrote about her inspiration for the doughnut story…such an encouragement for all of us to keep on chugging along…doing challenges like PiBoIdMo to spark those great ideas…and then writing and revising and submitting the heck out of them. 😉

      Like

    • You were with me from the beginning–how cool, Lori!

      Like

  23. Pat,I can remember when you were first working on The Hole Story. Congratulations on your latest publication! So happy for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I love it that Heidi was a favorite book–I still remember my mother reading that to me. Congrats on your success! I would like to see a non-fiction book written about the Ute woman, Chipeta, so I’m writing one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good for you, Deborah! I’ll be excited to read your story when it becomes a book! And Heidi was a definitely favorite of mine also.

      Like

    • That’s the best inspiration, when you fall in love with a little known person and determine to bring her/him back into history. I just read a fascinating story about the Chinese-American gourmet cook who had a hand in helping the National Park Service come to be. He is Tie Sing and Sing Mountain in Yosemite National Park is named for him. The book is Mountain Chef by Annette Bay Pimental (Charlesbridge, 2016)

      Like

  25. Great post and interview. Loved Pat’s new book.

    I would love to learn about the origin of Guatemalan Worry Dolls.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Such an interesting post. Pat makes her story come to life for the reader just as she does the lives of her characters.

    Like

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